Although nine years old, Disgaea 4’s merits largely remain timeless, even when measured against some of the quality-of-life improvements found in Disgaea 5. While the presence of microtransactions are sporadic crashes blemish the fun, the port provides PC owners with access of the best SPRGs around.
Platform: PC, previously on PlayStation 4, Switch, and PS Vita
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: September 10th, 2020
Price: $39.99 via digital download
When Disgaea 4 was originally released for the PlayStation 3 back in 2011, its subtitle had a dual meaning. A Promise Unforgotten referenced not only the protagonist’s unwavering devotion to his word, but it also symbolizes Nippon Ichi’s tacit commitment to series supporters. Building upon the foundations established by the franchise’s preceding entries, Disgaea 4 delivered the type of eclectic cast, depth, and impish humor that Netherworld aficionados had grown to expect.
The release of Disgaea 4 Complete+ demonstrates N1 delivering on its pledge to PC owners, offering a colossal compendium which consists of the original game, an assemblage of downloadable content, along with few indulging extras like additional chapters. As with the developer/publisher’s previous PC adaptations, the game is essential. But the presence of microtransactions as well as the sporadic crash is poised to irk Netherworld devotees.
Bring on a Morally Ambiguous Protagonist
From the Napoleonic Laharl of Hour of Darkness to the inverted delinquency of Raspberyl in Absence of Justice, the Disgaea series has consistently showcased captivating characters. The fourth main entry is no different. Players follow the trajectory of disgraced vampire Valvatorez- a once-powerful figure relegated to laboring as a teacher in a maximum security Prinny penitentiary. When the dejected instructor discovers that the Netherworld’s administration (known as the Corrupternment) begins to condemn Prinnies for the realm’s escalating woes, he takes action- planning a rebellious coup to protect an oath.
Assisted by the dutiful servant Fenrich and a half-dead middle-schooler named Fuka (clad in a Prinny cap as the Corrupternment lacks the funds for a full suit), the dialog is dependably humorous. Referencing everything from Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’s tirade in Full Metal Jacket to flowery final boss soliloquies, the game’s targets are as varied as they are plentiful. Cleverly, Disgaea 4 Complete+ crescendos into a joyful pageant of N1 cameos, that are poised to delight franchise faithfuls.
Behold, the Power of…Sardines
Complementing the game’s storyline is Disgaea’s distinctive turn-based battle system, which tasks players with controlling a small army of grid-based gladiators. Using a variety of physical, weapon-based, and magical strikes, success hinges on the strategic placement and deft utilization of each combatant. One example- adjacent allies increase the probability of a team attack, where associates can hammer a foe with additional hits. Of course, clustering teammates closely leaves the group open for a zoned attack.
On the upside, Disgaea 4’s gameplay in tailored to occupy two distinct groups. Tacticians can methodically position party members together for by taking advantage of stat-altering Geo Blocks. Although strategizing will take you far, the Item World extends the ability to persevere without meticulous party management. Here, players can persevere by augmenting their gear and level grinding. The downside is that the game’s AI is still patently predictable, with opponents consistently seeking out the weakest friendly units- making survival less about clever stratagems than min-maxing your way to domination.
Absence of Justice’s “magichange” system makes a return here, with one key change. Previously, humans and monsters could be combined into a single weapon. Now, players can combine two beasts into a ‘mega-monster’ replete with intensified stats, and even combine this merged monstrosity with a human to create a formidable ‘mega-weapon’. To keep these abilities from becoming overpowering, there’s a stringent turn limit on the transformation. Additionally, once the augmented unit is removed from battle, there’s a noticeable gap in the player’s roster. Another adjustment N1 made to Disgaea 4 can be found in the game’s punishment system- which allows players to convert foes into friends, and even extort money or loot locations from weaker antagonists.
Off the battlefield, a variety of elements vie for the player’s waking hours. There’s the senate, where gamers can push bills to unlock new party-optimizing permutations. With Disgaea 4, politicking has been supplemented by the introduction of the ‘Cam Pain HQ’, which recalled Absence of Justice’s classroom management. Here, completed maps unlock pieces of an overworld, allowing players to arrange their allies to raise the ferocity of their team attack or place symbols to buff their squad.
“All is for my Lord!”
Disgaea 4 Complete+ includes all the supplemental downloadable content that was added to the original Vita re-release. Among the fifty pieces of DLC, are “The Flashback Episode”, in which gamers could appreciate Valvatorez and Fenrich’s rapport in a scenario set before the start of D4. There’s also “The Fuka & Dresco Show” which is a four-part episode that centers on the ersatz Prinny’s quest for reincarnation.
The basis for the plus in the title, is the game’s increase in resolution to 1080p output. The escalation in fidelity provides a bump in quality to Takehito Harada’s consistently eye-playing artistry. There are also a few of amendments like auto saving or previewing the Magichange weapon for your monster class. You won’t notice them if this is your first time playing Disgaea 4, but they contribute a few understated conveniences drawn from later series entries.
Don’t Miss the Post-Game Catfight
What’s not quite as cool is the inclusion of DLC. These provide additional in-game items like stealing hands and Mr. Gency Exits, or 10 million HL. So, while there’s nothing here that you won’t obtain in the base game, they do reduce some of tedium of party member leveling. But for most Disgaea stalwarts, grinding is a core attribute of the franchise, so the presence of items isn’t too problematic. But what is inevitably frustrating is the sporadic crash. During 30+ hours of play, the game drops to the desktop twice, both during lengthy battles.
As a content-packed port of an already remarkable role-playing title, Disgaea 4 Complete+ follows Nippon Ichi’s tradition of releasing bringing a PC adaption, long past the release of the original title. The payoff for patience, is a plethora of supplemental content at a reasonable price, making Disgaea 4 Complete+ a worthwhile purchase for previous owners who want to revisit the item world or ones venturing for the first time.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ was played on PC with
review code provided by the publisher.